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Could Ilya Samsonov Arbitration Ruling Impact Carter Hart and Flyers?

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Carter Hart , Philadelphia Flyers. (Credit: AP)
Carter Hart (AP photo)

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov was awarded a one-year, $3.55 million deal by an arbitrator on Sunday. Is there an impact on the Philadelphia Flyers?

Well, there could be.

Maple Leafs fans always want an upgrade at every position and look who’s out there — Carter Hart, who turns 25 next month, a veteran and still young. And, a guy who might be available.

Since Flyers general manager Daniel Briere announced that neither Hart nor any other Philadelphia player was safe from being traded, Hart is the subject of fan adoration across North America.

And since Toronto is both the capital of hockey and the clearinghouse of rumors, Carter Hart talk is inevitable.

That’s not to say Briere wants to trade Hart or is actively (making calls) trying to do so. But how about Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving? In that market? You gotta think he’s working the phones.

Samsonov asked for $4.9 million while the Leafs asked for $2.4 million in arbitration, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The one-year deal was a given because of Samsonov’s age and UFA status after next season.

Samsonov’s arbitration was the first completed case for Toronto in a decade.

Samsonov, 26, could leave next July and the Leafs would get nothing in return. Arbitration sometimes does that to players. Relationships deteriorate. Players don’t feel wanted by their own team. Most times, there is a settlement before the sides reach the sour stage of arbitration.

Paying A Price

In 2022, the Leafs were the NHL’s most valuable franchise, valued at $2.12 billion by Sportico. (The Flyers were ranked seventh in value at $1.35 billion.) If the Leafs thought Samsonov was their guy in goal, they would have signed him and extended his contract before going to arbitration. They can afford it. They could have figured out the salary cap.

Samsonov is coming off his best season — a career-high .919 save percentage, a 27-10-5 record with four shutouts. He had a 2.33 goals-against average in 42 games.

Samsonov’s arbitration opens a buyout window, which the Leafs are expected to use on Matt Murray, who played 26 games this season. The third-string goalie, Joseph Woll, has potential but has played only 11 games in two years.

Toronto hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967. The Leafs advanced out of the first round of the playoffs this season for the first time since 2004. Fans are desperate for success.

Hockey in Toronto is like a Philadelphia Eagles football season — times a thousand. Every little thing the Leafs do — or, don’t do — faces enormous scrutiny. In the best of times, the fan base is harshly critical.

From Day One, I didn’t think the Flyers should trade Hart. He’s their franchise goalie, a guy they can rely on and, in better times, might be able to ride a long way. I still think that. But with a glut of goalies now — Sam Ersson, Felix Sandstorm, Cal Petersen — and young goalies coming through the system, a trade wouldn’t be impossible.

Toronto probably has enough offensive firepower to seriously challenge for the Stanley Cup. It’s not hard to daydream that a goalie of Hart’s caliber, and potential, could be that elusive missing piece.

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